Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today voted to declassify key parts of a committee report that details CIA abuse of prisoners as part of its detention and interrogation programs after 9/11.
“America has paid a huge price for torturing detainees,” Heinrich said in a statement after the11-3 vote to release the documents. “Not only is torture morally wrong; it just doesn’t work. It’s a grave stain on our history costing us global credibility on the issue of human rights. I hope the release of this report will finally let us face what was done in the name of the American people, and allow for future generations to use these findings to learn from the mistakes made by the architects of this program.
Heinrich, who was among several Democrats on the panel pushing hardest for the report’s release, also stressed that the report is not a blanket condemnation of the CIA or its employees.
“The decision to use these techniques and the defense of the program were the work of only a few people at the CIA,” he said. “This report is not a condemnation of the thousands of men and women at the agency who work tirelessly every day to protect and defend our nation from very real and imminent threats.”
Heinrich said he would prefer the committee release the full report to the public, but that the pending release of the executive summary and committee findings is “a step in the right direction.”
“The information in the executive summary and the committee’s findings and conclusions will finally pull back the curtain on the bad judgment that went into creating and implementing this interrogation program,” Heinrich said.
“This report shows that multiple levels of government were misled about the effectiveness of these techniques,” he added. “If secretive government agencies want to operate in a democracy, there must be trust. As the committee carries out future oversight, we will be wary of the lessons we’ve learned from this report.”
Heinrich’s statement echoed one also released by the committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., after the vote. Feinstein said the findings in the report are “shocking.” Initial reports about its conclusions detail how some prisoners continued to be waterboarded even after their interrogators said it was clear they had no more information to give.
“The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking,” Feinstein said. “The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.
“The release of this summary and conclusions in the near future shows that this nation admits its errors, as painful as they may be, and seeks to learn from them,” she added. “It is now abundantly clear that, in an effort to prevent further terrorist attacks after 9/11 and bring those responsible to justice, the CIA made serious mistakes that haunt us to this day. We are acknowledging those mistakes, and we have a continuing responsibility to make sure nothing like this ever occurs again.”